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Archive for the ‘Stephen King’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: mxmtoon-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #137 (January 15, 2021).

mxmtoon is another young musician who has gained success through the internet.  Two years ago when All Songs Considered played her, they noted that the then 18-year old has “amassed a sizable following on Twitter and YouTube on the strength of her endearingly intimate presence.”

mxmtoon sings songs filled with dreams and anxieties. Much of the music comes from her recent 2020 EPs, Dawn and Dusk.  Those EPs included collaborations with Carly Rae Jepsen and Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus. For this Tiny Desk (home) concert, her sweet voice and ukulele are accompanied by Nicole Wakabayashi on piano and Cale Hawkins on guitar.  Her melodies are simple, with the words up front mighty and personal.

They play five songs and the blurb is absolutely right.  These are simple, pretty songs.  Maia’s voice is wonderful and she happily allows th eband to play behind her.

On “Fever Dream” Nicole and Cale play the delicate melody (which gets slightly large after the first verse) as she sings her intelligent and thoughtful lyrics.  Nicole throws in the occasional backing vocal harmony which adds a nice touch.  A

After the sing she jokes,

“Hi, I’m mxmtoon, and I’m doing my Tiny Desk at the world’s biggest desk!” And so it begins, from an eerily empty New York City office building,

It’s been almost two years now since we first played the Oakland-based mxmtoon on All Songs Considered. She was just 18 then, singing about crying in her “prom dress” (which I’m thrilled she is performing here).

On “Prom Dress” she adds her ukulele to this amusing and sad song about going to prom.

I can’t help the fact I like to be alone
It might sound kinda sad, but that’s just what I seem to know
I tend to handle things usually by myself
And I can’t ever seem to try and ask for help
I’m sitting here, crying in my prom dress
I’d be the prom queen if crying was a contest

One of the first songs she released is called “Feelings Are Fatal,” which she also performs. It’s a candid song about emotions and why we’re often afraid to share them. It’s a model for what mxmtoon does so well: humble, honest songs, sung here behind a massive desk.

She says she credits her writing style to “Feelings Are Fatal” because this was the first song that she was completely honest in wanting to share her feelings with the world. (According to bandcamp she had about a half dozen songs before this one).  It’s just her on the ukulele (it’s a large ukulele) singing these clear words.

i’m always sad
and i’m always lonely
but i can’t tell you
that i’m breaking slowly

closed doors
locked in, no keys
keeping my feelings hidden
there is no ease

“Wallflower” opens with the piano and her singing very clearly.  Her voice sounds like someone else’s here, although I can’t quite place it.

“Bon Iver” is a cute song started on the ukulele before the band joins in with lovely backing oohs.  The title comes in in this verse:

Playing Bon Iver on late night drives
My window, moon, and fireflies
Holding onto moments that we found
Even when the sun goes down.

It’s a lovely little concert and I look forward to hearing more from her.

[READ: February 21, 2021] “The Death of Jack Hamilton”

This is a long story about John Dillinger.

It’s told by Homer, a Dillinger flunkie.  He’s a colorful character who speaks colloquially.  He wants to set the record straight about Dillinger’s death.  He does this by talking about the death of John’s closest partner Jack Hamilton.

The three of them were escaping from a job and the police were after them.  After some bullets were fired, they realized that Jack was hit.  He said he was fine, but over the course of a few hours he started to look pretty bad–with a lot of blood leaking out.

The realized they needed a new car so they pulled over and waited for a car to come help them.  A family of three pulled over to help.  Dillinger and his men showed off their guns, but the family recognized him and seemed pretty thrilled to be meeting Dillinger himself.  He promised no one would get hurt–Dillinger robbed banks, he didn’t kill people  Dillinger was charming and could always make people smile. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LILA IKÉ-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #67 (August 19, 2020).

Lila Iké is a Jamacian singer.  Although her music has reggae foundations, her vocals transcend the basics of reggae.

The set starts with “Solitude.”

 On “Solitude,” she blends avant-garde R&B with contemporary reggae in a hauntingly elegant song complemented by violinist Sean “Ziah” Roberts.

The opening guitar from Stephen Welsh is four notes that sound like “Stairway to Heaven” and for a split second I had no idea what to expect.  It’s the reggae bass line from Dane Peart that grounds the song.  The biggest surprise to me was the addition of a violinist Sean “Ziah” Roberts–not something I associate with reggae.  Backing singers Tori-Ann Ivy and Ovasha Bartley add some gentle backing harmonies and some fun choreography.

“I Spy” starts with that standard reggae staccato guitar riff and some fun drum fills from Kristoff Morris and Stephen Forbes.

Most of the band is socially distanced, although not everyone is (it’s a fairly cramped space and there are people off camera as well).

“Forget Me” is a slower song with prominent keyboards from Wade Johnson and gorgeous backing vocals.  There’s a lovely violin solo at the end.

For the final song, “Thy Will” all of the singers stand up.

The song (which borrows from the iconic reggae rhythm section Sly & Robbie) ends the set with an uptempo banger.

There’s some groovy sliding bass and a series of solos from all of the musicians at the end.

[READ: August 20, 2020] “Cicadia”

The narrative style of this story loops around a timeline.  We project forward and flashback as the actual motion of the story is just three boys heading to a party.

It’s a Saturday night in 1986 in suburban Cincinnati.  Max, Rodney and Ben are heading into senior year. They have been best friends forever.  Rodney drives, Max sits in the backseat while Ben, shotgun, tries to roll a joint.

Earlier they sneaked into Rodney’s brother Oscar’s room to steal his weed.  Rodney is convinced that Oscar will kill him when he finds out, but in one of the fascinating timeline shifts the story provides,

Oscar is going to be their savior, as he always is.  Oscar the berserker bursting onto the scene with exquisite timing, creating mayhem and staring down Blaine’s cohort of pretty boys who are ready to thrash Rodney and Ben and especially Max.

They are heading to a party where Max will be winked at by a girl in a red beret. It was a definite wink.  In fact, the winks seemed to keep coming all night

Then the story flashes forward to the party where Max punches Blaine and Blaine falls into the pool.  To me, it’s unclear if this is a real party or if Max is remembering a movie.  [Pretty in Pink]  Someone falling in a pool?  [Every movie ever] Everyone cheered when Blaine fell into the pool except the girl with the red beret–for she had left already.

Back in the car, they tease Ben for not being able to roll a joint .  It is pudgy in the middle but it “has a joint-like presence.”  (A phrase that Max really liked).

While all of this is going on Max (the philosophical one) is thinking about their past together and how he is evolving from his friends.  He nearly got a perfect score on the SAT without even trying.  He now kicks himself for the few questions he got wrong–he will try again to get a perfect score.  He’s also planned to stop reading Stephen King and start reading the authors whom Lou Reed recommends.

As the get close to the party, they realize they are lost.  They ask directions from a man walking his dog.  But as the man talks to them, his dog, Cupcake, poops on a neighbor’s lawn and that neighbor yells, “Really Harold, again?”

Harold starts to tell them where to go but when the neighbor charges at Harold with an aluminum bat, Harold and Cupcake hop in the cars and they drive off.  Harold seems pretty fun until he starts asking about the smell in the car.  The boys aren’t sure if he’s going to narc on them or if he wants some.

Then the story has a little perspective shift and addresses… the reader?

maybe, like Max, you know where this is heading … and maybe you’re tapping the person next to you and telling him or her, I know what’s going to happen, because you;re the kind of person who can predict these things… and if you had wanted to, well, you could have been a writer yourself.

But the boys make it to the party, as the story said they would.  And they debate how they should go about selling Oscar’s pot.

There’s a really fun last line.

And yet, I genuinely can’t decide if this is a story or an excerpt from a novel.  There is so much detail that it feels novel-like. I feel like these three characters have a lot more life to show us.

There’s so much potential for time shifting and narrative address, that a lot more could go on here.  At the same time, too much might overwhelm a novel. And it does feel complete, if confusing as a story.

I enjoyed it either way.

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SOUNDTRACK: DIRTY PROJECTORS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #45 (July 6, 2020).

  I have a mixed reaction to Dirty Projectors.  I love some of their songs but am indifferent to a lot of other ones.  They have a new song “Overlord” (performed here) that I absolutely love.  But the final two songs are just okay to me.

That said, I love the overall sound of this session.

David Longstreth’s guitar sounds fantastic on “Lose Your Love”.  Although the highlight is obviously lead vocalist Felicia Douglass (her dancing is super fun).  The soaring gorgeous high notes of backing singers Maia Friedman and Kristin Slipp (with the keytar) are otherworldly.

Kristin introduces the second song, “Overlord” the one that I think is so great.  The lead vocals are from Maia.  There’s great guitar sound from David and a lot of fun percussion from Mike Johnson (and Felicia).  But once again it’s those vocals that are wonderful.

Kristin stars lead vocals on “Inner World” while David starts on piano and then jumps to bass.  Maia plays guitar on this one and it’s fun to see everything that Mike is banging on.  “Search for Life” ends the set with no drums.  David is back on guitar and Maia sings lead.  For this song she sings in a very deep voice–it’s quite arresting.  The backing vocals soar high as she sings.

Dirty Projectors’ lineup is always changing.

The lineup often shifts, but the creative nature of this band, headed by David Longstreth, doesn’t. It’s a band in which any member can take the lead, and that’s the beauty here. The band is releasing 5 EPs this year.

I think it’s time I give them more of my time.

[READ: July 10, 2020] “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away”

Stephen King is a truly masterful writer.  He can write a story about a man looking to commit suicide and have you laugh out loud in the middle of it.

It’s not explicitly stated why Alfie wants to kill himself.  He is a salesman (ahh).  He is (happily?) married and has a daughter.  It seems like perhaps the life of a salesman has gotten to him.  He plans to go to a motel and shoot himself.

So how can this terribly sad, genuinely terribly sad, story be funny?

Because for the last dozen years or so Alfie has been collecting graffiti in a book–a small spiral bound book that he has been carrying with him forever.  He looks for graffiti in bathrooms, in phone booths, anywhere he might find some.  He is not interested in the mundane–the ones you might see everywhere: Here I sit, broken hearted–he is looking for the poetic. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE ARCHIES-“Sugar Sugar” (1969).

Bubblegum music is typically defined using two sets of criteria: the vocal style, the simplistic or childish lyrics, and an 8/8 or otherwise upbeat rhythm structure and marketing strategy aimed at a young naive audience (e.g. fictional bands, double entendre lyrics, recycled songs).  The “golden age” of Bubblegum Music was 1966-1970.

Who doesn’t love music made my fictional cartoon bands?  For a bunch of teens who clearly are not playing their instruments in the video (yes there was a video), this song is about the catchiest thing around.

It’s pretty interesting how much this sounds like The Monkees (who had started three years earlier).

“Sugar Sugar” has a simple, easily remembered melody, soft and sweet lyrics and an earworm chorus that you will have in your head all day because you read this.

You are my candy, girl.

[READ: May 10, 2020] Bubblegum Week 1

Over at the Infinite Zombies site, there was talk of doing a Quarantine book read.  After debating a few books, we decided to write about a new book, not a book that everyone (or some people) had read already.  This new book would be Bubblegum by Adam Levin.  Many of us had read Levin’s massive The Instructions which was not especially challenging, although it was a complex meta-fictional story of books within books.  It was kind of disturbing, but also rather funny and very entertaining.

So I’ll be posting weekly ideas on this schedule

Date Through Page
May 11 81
May 18 176
May 25 282
June 1 377
June 8 476
June 15 583
June 22 660
June 29 767

A Character By Any Other Name

As this book opens I couldn’t help but focus on names.  I have always been attuned to the names authors use.  When I used to attempt fiction, I could spend as much time trying to come up with the perfect meaningful name (see how the name comments on the action?) as with a story itself.   So when I see an author using especially peculiar names, my reading senses tingle. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BURNA BOY-Tiny Desk Concert #912 (November 18, 2019).

I’ve heard of Burna Boy but I don’t know anything about him.  So:

The Nigerian singer and songwriter is one of the biggest African artists in the world. He’s also a pioneer of Afro-fusion which incorporates sonics and influences from a myriad of genres, laid on an Afrobeat foundation. The sound has been inescapable this year. The man born Damini Ogulu has been touring the world for the majority of 2019 and has at least 10 songs in the current nightclub rotation.

I was concerned when he started “Gbona” that I couldn’t understand him at all.  But it turns out the song is in Yoruba.  He even mutters something and I really like the rhythm of it, although I don’t know if its words or just sounds.

It’s weird that between the songs, there’s clapping and then silence.  No one in the band says anything.  And there’s some really long pauses.

The silence between songs must be atypical though:

his Tiny Desk performance offers something relatively different from what we’re used to seeing at his rowdy stage shows. He’s more reflective here and restrained, allowing his songwriting to shine.

“Wetin Man Go Do” opens up with some pretty, clean guitars from Gaetan Judd and some big fat bass sounds from Otis “Bdoc” Mensah.  The main melody of the song comes from Michael “Maestro” Masade Jr. or Jola Ade on the keys (they are not introduced, so I don’t know who is who).

The opening of the Tiny Desk Concert had a warning about explicit lyrics and I wondered how that would be if he didn’t sing in English. But in “Dangote” he gets this verse in

Choko, make you hustle, ma lo go
I no be olodo, I no be bolo
Wo Omo to ba lo fuck up

All of the songs feature some lovely backing vocals from Christina Matovu, although the last song, “Ye” features a sampled vocal (I thought it was Matovu’s voice filtered but it’s not).  Because she actually has a few call and response vocals and it’s nice to hear her voice alone a few times.

There’s some nice drum punctuation in the verses of “Ye” from Emmanuel “Manny” Abiola-Jacobs. Since there was some English in his songs, I thought he was saying Chewbacca (which seemed really unlikely).  So I had to look it up and this is a serious song and he’s actually saying “G-wagon”

My nigga what’s it gon’ be?
G-Wagon or de Bentley?
The gyaldem riding with me
I no fit, die for nothing

I really like the guitar sounds on this song, but overall this concert felt a little cold.

[READ: March 1, 2020] “The Fifth Step”

I started reading this story and was thinking how Stephen King’s stories used to be all about horror .  And now his stories are about people who have everyday issues and concerns.

Harold Jamieson was chief engineer of New York City’s sanitation department.  He was retired now at 68 and, despite his wife’s passing five years ago, he was pretty happy.  He enjoyed going to Central Park and reading the newspaper (if the weather was nice).

He was sitting, reading his paper, when a stranger sat on the bench with him.  He was about to get up when the man asked him for a favor.

Jamieson was definitely going to leave but the man pleaded with him and held out $20.  He said Jamieson could help save his life. Jamieson gave him five minutes.

The man, who said his name was Jack, said he was in AA and his new sponsor encouraged him to find a stranger and talk to him.  It was Step Five: Admit to God, to yourself and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 25, 2019] Ice Nine Kills

I was unfamiliar with Ice Nine Kills until my son started talking about them.  Then his friend invited him to see a show at the Starland Ballroom on May 3 (Ice Nine Kills was not headlining–the lineup was Falling In Reverse, Ice Nine Kills, From Ashes to New and New Years Day).  So I was a little bummed that he didn’t go to his first club show with me, but it’s much cooler that he went with his friend.  He loved the show.

So when they announced that they were playing at TLA and headlining the Octane Accelerator Tour (a Sirius XM thing), I made sure we got tickets (even though it was a Monday night).

The show was (I’m exhausted just thinking about it) FIVE bands and started at 6PM (!).

The lineup was Ice Nine Kills, Fit For A King, Light The Torch, Make Them Suffer, & Awake At Last.

Since it was a Monday night, I knew it would be really hard to get there for the first band, so we decided we would assume we’d miss Awake at Last.  Then on November 5th, Make Them Suffer (who are Australian) announced:

Unfortunately we have had some serious setbacks with immigration, and were unable to secure the visas we needed in time for these shows.

TLA said the show would go on at the same time which was great for us since it meant we would get home about 30 minutes earlier.  I also figured I’d take my son for some good ol’ Philly cheese steaks before the show since Jim’s is just a few doors down.

We enjoyed out cheese steaks quite a lot and as we walked past the theater I asked the guy at the door which band was on.  He said the second band was on and since we had plenty of time, we decided to go to Atomic City Comics (which is a wonderful store).

We headed back to TLA figuring we’d be in the middle of Fit for a King.  But as we walked in, they were between bands.  The woman at the merch table said that ice Nine Kills was up in ten minutes!  We’d missed all of the opening bands! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: STEVE EARLE-Transcendental Blues (2000).

I’ve never really liked Steve Earle’s music.  For some reason I always thought of him as a kind of outlaw country.  But the review of this album from Hornby made me want to check it out.  And while there are certainly country music trappings, this is a solid fun rock record.

Earle’s voice isn’t what I thought it was (or wasn’t was it is now)–it’s much softer and much higher than I imagined.  So what’s going on on this record?

“Transcendental Blues” has a great distorted guitar riff running opposite the throbbing bassline.  Earle’s voice sounds like a cross between Dylan, Petty and (anachronistically) Kevin Devine.  “Everyone’s in Love with You” sounds like a rocking R.E.M. song with a very 90s vocal style and even a reverse guitar solo.

“Another Town” sounds like a song that I’ve heard a million times (but I haven’t).  It’s a simple pop song with a crazy catchy melody and it’s barely 2 minutes long.  “I Can’t Wait” slows things down a bit with a real poppy Matthew Sweet-vibe.

“The Boy Who Never Cried” is a dirgey song, slow and story telling.  It has strings with a slightly Middle Eastern feel.

“Steve’s Last Ramble” is a stompin’ song with full on harmonica introduction (which makes it seem even more Dylan).  “The Galway Girl” is a mandolin-based stomper while “Lonelier Than This” is a quiet, sad song.

“Wherever I Go” is only two minutes ling and has a country feel, even though it’s not that different from the other songs.  The guitar solo is totally early Beatles, but the lyrics are pure country:

I could drink corn whisky ’til my brain goes soft
I could run this highway ’til my wheels come off

The harmonica returns on “When I Fall” the start of a trifecta of country songs.  His drawl really comes out here, possibly because of his duet partner (Steve Earle’s sister, Stacey Earle, a country singer in her own right).  It’s a shame this song is so long as it’s my least favorite.

“I Don’t Want to Lose You Yet” is a simple country pop song (the twang remains).  Although “Halo ‘Round the Moon” is a softer song with a gentle shuffle beat.  “Until the Day I Die” continues with the old school country/bluegrass style with a big ol’ banjo intro, close harmonies, and a fiddle solo.  You can imagine a jug solo, hand clappin’ and a hoedown in a live version.

“All of My Life” rocks out again, with some loud bass and distorted guitar, which I desperately needed after those last few songs.

The disc ends with “Over Yonder (Jonathan’ Song).”  From songfacts:

This song is about the execution-by injection of Jonathan Nobles, which Steve Earle witnessed. The alt-country star told Mojo magazine May 2008 about it: “I don’t recommend it. I befriended Jonathan for several months beforehand. Then I saw the execution and later brought his remains to England for burial according to his wishes. But the execution was incredibly toxic to me. It’s hard. You can’t believe it’s really happening. I remember afterwards I thought, ‘did I black out and miss it? I let Jonathan down.’ Then the blank filled in… it was the shock… I realized exactly what I’d seen. I can’t see myself doing it again. I’ve absorbed enough death. And I still work hard against the death penalty.”

So I’m still on the fence about Earle, but I did enjoy this record much more than I thought I would.  Thanks, Nick.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “Alternative Earle”

I am aware of Steve Earle and I really like his lyrics.  I don’t love his music though–too much country in the alt-country.  Although Hornby describes it as Nashville folk and rock n roll hybrid.  But man, his lyrics are great.  I wish I liked him a bit more especially after reading this review.

Hornby is a passionate music lover and anything he likes sounds great when he describes it.

The album in question is Transcendental Blues (and in the photo Earle’s beard is much shorter than it is now).  As of 2000, Earle has been married and divorced six times (to five women–4 and 6 were the same person). In 1994 he was imprisoned for possessing narcotics.  This sentence ending years of heroin addiction. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RODRIGO Y GABRIELA-NonCOMM (May 16, 2019).

The biggest shame of NonCOMM 2019 is that Rodrigo y Gabriela only got 19 minutes. Oh man, these two need an hour to show off everything they can do.  The other shame is that the person who wrote the blurb doesn’t know the song titles.

Normally their show–two people playing acoustic guitar–is a surprisingly loud and percussive affair.  Gabriela slaps her guitar and plays amazing drum-like sounds across the strings, while Rodrigo solos all over the fretboard.  Even though they play acoustic guitars, they have metal in their blood (they recently covered Slayer).

But this show is a rather quiet affair.  They begin with a quiet piece with a simple backing guitar line and a lead line that runs through the song.

Rodrigo y Gabriela may have started off their set with a soft, lullaby-ish tune, illuminated only by a single spotlight. But don’t get too comfortable with that mellow sound, beautiful as it is, because what followed after was a loud, jarring song that gave us a taste of what heavy metal might sound like if it could only be played with two guitars.

It segued into “Krotona Days” a heavy opening thuds before the two masters take off through fast and slow, loud and quiet.

Often standing face to face with their guitars in hand, Rodrigo y Gabriela engage in a conversation without any words, their narration punctuated by lighting perfectly selected to match each emotion. Even in the absence of lyrics, the listener is drawn into the band’s vulnerability; it’s as if they’ve invited us in as witnesses of their funky, fiery story as it unwinds song by song.

‘After Gabriela talks to everyone, they play “Electric Soul,” another quieter song.  Usually they are blowing our minds with speed, but here they demonstrate beautiful restraint.

The next song starts slowly, but after a build up of Gabriela’s percussive guitar it… returns to a quiet melody again including some harmonics.  I’m almost disappointed that they didn’t really do what they are known for, but this demonstration of a different side of them is pretty amazing too.

Most of these songs come from their new album Mettavolution, which features six original instrumental compositions, many of which we did get to hear.

They end the set with the titular song “Mettavolution.”  On the record it is a big loud raucous affair with loud pummeling chords to open.  It’s a bit more subdued here even if the main riff is still pretty intense.

I’m not sure why they chose to play so quietly, but it’s an interesting take on their music.

[READ: June 1, 2019] “On Impact”

When I was in high school, Stephen King was my favorite writer.  I read everything he’d written.  When I got to college I was really bummed that the school library had no Stephen King at all.  My freshman year I read the Tommyknockers and didn’t really like it and I think that was the last I’d thought about Stephen King.

At some point in the 1990s I read some of his newer books and remembered why I liked him so much.  Maybe I should go back and start all over again–will Salem’s Lot freak me out now as much as it did then?  I don’t know.

I don’t recall if I knew that he had been in a car accident.  I know I found out some years later (possibly when I read On Writing).  It’s also possible that this essay comes from that book.  It’s been 19 years, don’t remember, but I’m guessing the title of this is a nod to the book. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS “Halloween Eyes” (?).

This song is somewhat legendary among Rheostatics stories.  I’m not really sure when they wrote it (a long time ago).  I’m not even sure if there’s more to it than this verse.  Every time I’ve heard it played it has lasted about a minute.

It’s a simple guitar riff with some quite ridiculous lyrics

Don’t look at me with your Halloween eyes Awhoooo
Don’t hit me with your pumpkin pies Awhoooo
Devil’s got horns, devil’s got a tail–666, gonna fuck you up
Some people say that he got scales—666, you’re a sitting duck
Awhooo Awhoo etc etc.

They play it live from time to time (as recently as 2017) and each time they play it they seem to add to the mythology

“These guys really were stoned when they wrote that.”

Is it scary?  Nope.  Is it safe to add to a party playlist?  Nope.  Is it dumb?  Yup.  Do they know that?  Yup.  Is it fun anyway?  Yup.  Sounds like Halloween to me.

[READ: October 20, 2018] “Gray Matter”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. comes Ghost Box II.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

The Ghost Box returns, like a mummy or a batman, to once again make your pupils dilate and the hair on your arms stand straight up—it’s another collection of individually bound scary stories, edited and introduced by comedian and spooky specialist Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, Patton Oswalt will be reviewing a book a day on his Facebook page.

Much respect to Oswalt, but I will not be following his order.  So there. (more…)

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thrilignSOUNDTRACK: ADIA VICTORIA-Tiny Desk Concert #545 (June 30, 2016).

adiaAdia Victoria has a rough, raw voice that goes well with her simple, exposed guitar sound.  The blurb says her music “carries the singular perspective of a Southern black woman with a Seventh Day Adventist upbringing, who never felt like she’d fit in.”

She sings three song, mostly in a great, raspy voice.  For “Stuck in the South” she actually seems to be gritting her teeth as she sings: “I don’t know nothing ’bout Southern belles / but I can tell you something ’bout Southern hell.”  When the first verse ends, and her band kicks in, it adds such interesting textures.  A distorted bass and a lead guitar playing quietly distorted sounds.  This song is really captivating.

“And Then You Die” with its swirling sounds and keyboards has a very distinctly Nick Cave feel–gothic in the Southern sense of the word.  Indeed, the first verse is spoken in a delivery that would make Nick proud. This is no to say she cribbed from Cave but it would work very well as a companion song  I really like the way it builds, but the ending is so abrupt–I could have used some more verses.

After the second song the band heads away and Bob says “They’re all leaving you.”  She looks at them and growls, “Get off the stage!” to much laughter.

She sings the final song “Heathen” with just her on acoustic guitar.  It is a simple two chord song.  It’s less interesting than the others, but again, it’s the lyrics that stand out: “I guess that makes me a heathen, something lower than dirt / I hear them calling me heathen, ooh like they think it hurts.”

I’m curious to hear just what Adia would do with these songs when she’s not in this Tiny format.  I imagine she can be really powerful.

[READ: November 23, 2016] McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales

For some reason or another I have put off reading this McSweeney’s volume for many years.  This is technically McSweeney’s #10, although it was also released in this printing from a  major publisher. Sadly for me, my McSweeney’s subscription had expired sometime around here so I’ve never actually seen the “official” Volume 10 which I understand has the exact same content but a slightly different cover.

One of the reasons I’ve put off reading this was the small print and pulpy paper–I don’t like pulpy paper.  And it was pretty long, too.

But I think the big reason is that I don’t really like genre fiction.  But I think that’s the point of this issue.  To give people who read non-genre fiction some exposure to genre stuff.

Interestingly I think I’ve learned that I do enjoy some genre fiction after all.  And yet, a lot of the stories here really weren’t very genre-y.  Or very thrilling.  They seemed to have trappings of genre ideas–mystery, horror–but all the while remaining internal stories rather than action-packed.

Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy anything here. I enjoyed a bunch of the stories quite a bit, especially if I didn’t think of them as genre stories.  Although there were a couple of less than exiting stories here, too. (more…)

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